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'Caught red-handed' Man accused of pepper-spraying Luas security guards who asked him to wear a face mask

The accused was escorted from the tram and it was alleged he withdrew the pepper spray, threatened the staff and deployed it, hitting two of them in the face.

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Lee O'Donoghue

Lee O'Donoghue

Lee O'Donoghue

A LUAS passenger who was asked to wear his face mask properly attacked security guards with a can of pepper spray, leaving one "screaming in pain," it is alleged.

Lee O’Donoghue (27) is accused of spraying and injuring the security men as he was being escorted from a tram.

Judge Brian O'Shea refused to grant him bail and remanded him in custody when he appeared in Dublin District Court.

O’Donoghue, with an address at Wheaton Court, Inchicore, is charged with two counts of assault causing harm and possession of a canister of pepper spray as a weapon.

Dublin District court heard the offences were alleged to have happened on the Luas Red Line on February 22.

Objecting to bail, the prosecuting garda said a report was received that the accused had assaulted Luas security staff by using pepper spray at the Drimnagh stop on Davitt Road.

He was a passenger who had been approached for “not wearing a face covering properly” according to public health guidelines, and became aggressive to staff, it was alleged.

The accused was escorted from the tram and it was alleged he withdrew the pepper spray, threatened the staff and deployed it, hitting two of them in the face.

Mr O’Donoghue was detained at the scene and the alleged victims were brought to Tallaght Hospital for treatment for injuries to their eyes, the garda continued.

He said the incident was filmed on the security men’s body cameras which captured the accused taking the can from the pocket of his tracksuit bottoms and saying he would use it if they approached him, before discharging it.

As the security guards tried to disarm him, one of them could be heard on the footage “screaming in pain,” the garda said.

Mr O'Donoghue was restrained until the gardai arrived and the pepper spray was recovered.

The accused was allegedly “caught red-handed” clearly committing the offences on the body cameras, the garda said.

Defence solicitor John Quinn said his client, who was presumed innocent, had given an explanation that he “felt in fear at the time.”

He had been homeless but now had stable accommodation and would abide by bail conditions, Mr Quinn said.

Mr O'Donoghue told the judge “it’s not that I wasn’t wearing a mask, my mask slipped down from my nose and was on top of my mouth underneath my nose.”

Judge O’Shea said the defence seemed to be raising issues of necessary use of force, but it was a source of concern that someone would be allegedly “walking around with a can of incapacitant spray.”

He said they were serious charges and he was refusing jurisdiction.

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